Dear Mary Jo,
How do two working parents with a three and five year old at home keep their marriage strong? Thank you,
Your kids will eventually grow through the demanding preschooler ages, but they’ll grow into another demanding stage. Although kids are incredible, they can emotionally and physically drain your energy, and your marriage may suffer unless you make a constant effort to keep your relationship first.
These suggestions will fortify you as well as your marriage.
- Have a weekly or daily check-in with each other. This is important for working parents because you forget during the day what happened, and at night you may be too exhausted to recount the day’s activities. Saving photos to share, or updates on the kids can help you share the load of parenting while keeping you connected in conversation.
- Give less attention to your kids and more to your marriage. Marriage is not a goal, it’s a lifestyle, and coasting through it or assuming your partner should know you love them isn’t enough. You have to do your share of chores and daily tasks to prevent feelings of resentment with your spouse. The health of your marriage determines your children’s health as well.
- Take a break and don’t feel guilty for time spent alone or being pampered. You cannot be a good parent, spouse or employee if you feel frazzled and unappreciated. Your spouse cannot do for you what a break will. Taking a half hour a day for something that makes you feel good is essential.
- Shut your phones off after the kids go to bed. It’s not quality or quantity that’s important…it’s time. Have a scheduled bedtime for the kids, shut electronics off and have a dinner date at home.
- Play nice. The most essential marriage fortifier is kindness to one another. It’s not easy when you’re tired, stressed, and frustrated to be kind, but it is powerful in reconnecting couples and building support.
Dear Mary Jo,
I recently began dating a guy who’s everything I ever wanted, but he follows me everywhere. I literally run into him. What can I do?
A hallmark of healthy relationships is healthy boundaries, and it’s important you establish those now. Below are quick reminders to help.
- Know exactly what you like and don’t like before you talk to them. Seeing them upset or looking sad may make you soften, so prepare ahead of time and follow through.
- Tell them directly and keep it short, beginning with what you like and ending with where you feel smothered. You have a right to have a preference of what you like and don’t like in your relationship. It does not mean you’re being selfish to want private time away.
- Don’t go back, reassess or feel guilty and apologize. Advocating for your needs and taking care of yourself is a healthy sign in relationships. If you feel guilty, manage it as you would any other stress in your life. Go for a walk, journal or call a friend. Establishing healthy boundaries is a very important part of successful relationships.